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Australian Snakes: A Natural History

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A Naturalist's Guide to the Snakes of Australia

Australian Herpetology Website (Reptiles and Amphibians)

Covering Snakes and Lizards, Crocodiles ,Turtles,and Amphibians, including Colubrid snakes, Pythons, Elapids (called Cobras or Coral Snakes in some countries), Sea Snakes, File Snakes, Blind (or Worm) Snakes, Sea Turtles, Freshwater Turtles (or Tortoises) Dragon Lizards (Agamas), Geckos, Legless Lizards Monitor Lizards (often called Goannas in Australia), Skinks and other Reptile species.

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AUSTRALIAN BLIND SNAKES

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Australian Blind Snakes
by
John Fowler & Rachel Barnes

This part of the website is focused on Australian Blind Snakes



Anilios (was Ramphotyphlops) nig
Photo of a Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) taken at Bendigo, Victoria

 

BLIND SNAKES
( or Worm Snakes )
Blind Snakes are totally harmless, they have a small spine on the tip of their tail but have no venom.


This family of snakes is found over most of Australia excluding Tasmania and Southern parts of Victoria 

There are 46 species of Blind Snakes belonging to the genus Anilios (previously Ramphotyphlops and Typhlops) in Australia.

There is also a single species restricted to Christmas Island (Australian Territory) called the Christmas Island Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops exocoeti), and there is also a single introduced tiny parthenogenic species of Blind Snake found in Australia called the Flowerpot Snake (Indotyphlops braminus).


Blind Snakes are sometimes mistaken for earthworms. They are burrowing species, which are usually grey, black, brown or pinkish in colour, often with a pale belly which may even be white or cream.

They have smooth scales which makes it easier them to travel through soil, however this also makes it difficult for them to move over smooth surfaces.
They also do not have broader belly scales like other Australian snakes.

These snakes are non-venomous and harmless.
They cannot bite humans however they sometimes produce a pungent odour from the anal glands when they feel threatened.

The small conical spine on their tail is believed to aid in locomotion, and if handled you may feel it being pushed into your skin, however it is unlikely to do any significant damage.

Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia
Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia

Blind snake scales are very smooth and the body is uniform in thickness along the whole snake, with a distinctive blunt tail (and a small spine on the end).


Blackish Blind Snake Anilios nigrescens
Photo of a Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) taken at Maleny, Queensland

Blind Snake eyes are reduced to small dark spots, and are covered by scales, giving them very limited vision.

 

 

Blind Snake

The Blind Snakes are small, worm-like burrowers.

 

Blind Snakes move in a side-to-side swimming motion when above the ground. Below the ground they often use tunnels made by insects, and that is where most feeding occurs

They are usually found wherever ants and termites are plentiful (their main food supply, as well as the eggs, larvae and pupae of them)

They are also nocturnal, with most activity occurring during or after rain and
may lay up to about twenty round eggs each breeding season, with the young looking after themselves.

 


Southern Blind Snake
Southern Blind Snake (Anilios australis) from Darlington near Perth, Western Australia


Worm Snake
Tail tip of a Southern Blind Snake (Anilios australis) from Darlington near Perth, Western Australia

 


Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia 
Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia

 
This Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia looks pale because it is going to shed its skin
This Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia looks pale because it is going to shed its skin


Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia
Dark-Spined Blind Snake (Anilios bicolor) photographed in South Australia





Note that the Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) is the only species of Blind Snake that has been recorded in Canberra, ACT



The photo above of a Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) was taken at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains NSW



The photo above of a Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) shows the harmless spine on the tip of its tail (Blue Mountains NSW)

Blackish Blind Snake Anilios nigrescens
The photo above of a juvenile (Anilios nigrescens) Anilios nigrescens was taken in Canberra, ACT

Blackish Blind Snake Anilios nigrescens
The photo above of a juvenile Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) was taken in Deagon (Brisbane), Queensland


Anilios (was Ramphotyphlops) nig
Photo of a Blackish Blind Snake (Anilios nigrescens) taken at Bendigo, Victoria
This species spends much of its life underground and feeds mainly on ants and termites - its eyesight is extremely poor.

Prong-snouted Blind Snake - Anilios (was Ramphotyphlops) bituberculatus
Note the distinctive head shape of the Prong-snouted Blind Snake (Anilios bituberculatus).

Head shape can helpful when identifying Blind Snakes
  
Prong-snouted Blind Snake - Anilios (was Ramphotyphlops) bituberculatus
Prong-snouted Blind Snake (Anilios bituberculatus)

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Australian Blind Snakes
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Updated February 19, 2021

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